Recording with Audacity

Audacity is an excellent choice for recording from a microphone or any other external source. Fortunately it is open-source software written by a team of volunteers under the GNU General Public License. The information on this page is intended as a partial guide to using Audacity for recording in the language labs. For detailed information on using the software, and to download your own copy, visit

Getting Started:

  • In the Language Labs, open Audacity by clicking on - - - - - - - - - START / VOICE RECORDING TOOLS / AUDACITY
  • Get familiar with the interface. The PAUSE button is especially useful for long recordings where breaks are required The six buttons from left to right are: REWIND/PLAY/RECORD/PAUSE/STOP/FAST FORWARD
  • Use the sliders to adjust playback and recording levels. Select the appropriate recording source device from the drop down menu
  • Start your recording by pressing the red RECORD button.
  • Check the VU Level Meters to make sure they are active by speaking into the microphone. If they are not moving, go over the pre-recording checklist. The left meter represents the playback level coming through the headphones, and the right meter represents the microphone volume level. An ideal recording will approach the 0db (Zero Decibel) level, without reaching or passing it..


  • The ideal amplitude of the recording shouldn't be too thick or too thin. It should appear as a full-bodied waveform as shown below -


  • Audacity is a multitrack recorder by default. This means that every time RECORD + STOP is pressed, a new recording track will appear below a previous one. During playback, ALL tracks are merged to one single track resulting a mixed audio file. For example the following two tracks shown here will be superimposed if the file is saved at this point in time.


  • To avoid merging, close additional tracks before saving, by selecting the X in the upper left corner of each additional track OR - select FILE / NEW to open an entirely new Audacity Window, and close off the old one. Only ONE Track should be visible when saving a voice recording.


  • Voice recordings typically only require one single track, so when saving an audio file in the labs select FILE/EXPORT AS WAV (.wav). Since Audacity is a multitrack recorder, it allows for saving of multitrack recording projects projects into its own native format (.aup - audacity project). This format cannot be read by any other program, so please avoid it. USE EXPORT AS WAV ONLY in the labs!!
  • When recording an audio file students are required to record their actual name at the beginning of each recording, and save any and all audio files for evaluation purposes (using Export as WAV), under the 'V - Voice Recordings' in the appropriate course subfolder. The filename should be the student name.
  • Once your recording has been saved it CANNOT be overwritten! If you with to save a different version of the same recording it must be called something different. For example. Original file = "filename.wav", Second version = "filename-finalversion.wav".

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